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This is a part of a sentence:

As many of you will have seen yesterday, . . .

What does it mean? The words will and yesterday seem to be in contradiction.

Is that a correct sentence?

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Hmm. Good one. I will assert that it is OK. I've also heard, "You will have heard this one already...." I don't know technically if I should think it is standard or not, but I'm familiar with the usage. It looks like future perfect.... –  jbelacqua Mar 18 '11 at 22:57
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It sounds OK, but I think it's not strictly grammatically correct, because the future perfect refers to things that will be complete at a future time, and the “yesterday” throws this off. –  maniacyak Mar 18 '11 at 23:05
    
@maniacyak Yes, you're right. I can't make it make sense or not make sense any more, though, so I'll wait for more opinions and answers. –  jbelacqua Mar 18 '11 at 23:09
    
Use "would" in place of "will" –  Alexander Rafferty Mar 19 '11 at 5:47
    
@maniacyak: It is a strange construction, but it is commonly used and understood; it is grammatically correct. –  psmears Mar 19 '11 at 8:12

7 Answers 7

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think this is incorrect, but it's complicated. My best guess is that this a manager-speak corruption of a conditional perfect clause, with some inbuilt assumptions.

Exhibit A:

If you had read the news yesterday, you would have seen…

This is a standard conditional perfect construction. However, I think that the speaker in your example is making a tacit assumption that everyone has read the news, and therefore drops the first part.

Exhibit B:

You would have seen yesterday…

But that seems to lack conviction, so they trade up from a “would” to a “will”, and in doing so wreck the grammar of the whole.

Exhibit C:

You will have seen yesterday…

(In my experience this is exactly the kind of thing that senior executives say when discussing company-wide restructures.)

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Thanks for saving me the trouble of trying to deconstruct this. –  Robusto Mar 19 '11 at 1:01
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I'm not sure Exhibit A is the right sentence for comparison. This form (if + pluperfect) implies that the condition was not satisfied ("If you had read the news, you would have seen... but you didn't") - i.e. a counterfactual. This doesn't really fit, because the speaker assumes the audience did read the news. Changing to a standard conditional gives either If you read the news yesterday, you saw..., or If you read the news yesterday, you will have seen. Either You saw... or You will have seen... works, but the meaning is slightly different. –  psmears Mar 19 '11 at 18:07
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This answer is wrong when it states that ‘You will have seen’ is incorrect. The future perfect can certainly be used in this way in English, and conveys a slightly different nuance than alternate constructs. –  tchrist Jan 9 '12 at 19:11
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Upon rethinking, I really think you are on the wrong track. Consider a more contextualized example: you will no doubt have seen the Queen at the wedding yesterday, since everybody watched it on the television. Rephrase it as it will no doubt turn out that you saw the Queen on television yesterday to see that yesterday modifies only the dependent clause you saw the Queen, not it will turn out. There is no internal contradiction. Psmears has the right answer. –  Cerberus Jan 10 '12 at 3:02
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Psmears answer is right. will here is used to show that the speaker is sure about what he is saying; it has nothing to do with the future. –  Pitarou Jan 10 '12 at 11:55

Added Note: My answer to the stated question begins following this indented paragraph. Several other answers treat the questioned sentence part (As many of you will have seen yesterday) strictly as a current utterance. In my answer I treat the case where the given part appears in a recorded message, written or spoken. For that particular case, without commenting on other cases, I submit that the sentence part is correct and easily understood. My answer does not address, nor is it intended to address, the current-utterance issues treated at length in other replies and comments. Whether the questioned usage is "common and natural in speech, where the audience hear the words as soon as they are said" is outside the scope of this answer. The reason for addressing only the recorded message case is that it is a case not treated in other answers, in spite of falling within the purview of the question, which does not say if the sentence part is recorded or is current utterance.

Such constructions are (or were) commonly found in magazine articles, where writers' deadlines fall a few weeks in advance of the publication being in the hands of readers. The following is a typical example of correct use in this manner. In the InfoWorld 27 Oct 1986 issue, R. X. Cringely wrote,

Then he told me that by the time this paper hits the streets, AST Research will have announced a desktop publishing system...

In examples like this, writer and speakers presume that when their recorded communications are read or heard, some event will have occurred.

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The normal context for this usage is nothing to do with the possibility that it could be written before the events being refered to actually happen. It's simply a matter of using "will" because it conveys emphasis/expectation that the statement is true. –  FumbleFingers Jan 9 '12 at 18:56
    
The phrase in question is used when writer expects event will happen. How does that have nothing to do with the possibility of something happening? How does it differ from expectation that a statement will be true? Your comment is less than clear on any of these points. –  jwpat7 Jan 9 '12 at 19:33
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The most common use of 'will' is to refer to future events. But this is not the only function of 'will'. 'Will' can also express expectation or probability, as when someone hearing the mobile phone ring says: 'That will be your mother.' It is this use of 'will' that makes the OP's sentence perfectly correct. It is not referring to the future and so the use of 'yesterday' is not a problem. –  Shoe Jan 9 '12 at 20:11
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@FumbleFingers: I think perhaps what makes Jwpat's example different is that it is actually about a specific time in the future: by the time this paper hits the streets. In the original example, and in you will have noticed and that will be your mother, the sense of future is more general, like if someone asks. This generalized future is the same as general high probability. –  Cerberus Jan 10 '12 at 2:49
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Our very strong association of 'will' with the future tense has lead to the numerous attempts on this thread to explain the OP's sentence in such terms. But as Allen in 'Living English Structure' p.136 points out: the future perfect can be used "to replace the idea of 'I suppose that, take it for granted that, expect that.' It occurs most frequently in debates, speeches, lectures and dialectical writing ..". This fits perfectly with the OP's sentence. –  Shoe Jan 10 '12 at 6:10

[Edited: In short, as you will have seen yesterday is technically correct and natural in speech; but, since the same meaning could be conveyed in fewer words, and because it may be slightly confusing at times, perhaps as you saw yesterday would be better in a polished text. ]

1.) As many of you saw yesterday, she sucked.

This is a simple situation, in which I describe what you saw yesterday.

2.) As many of you will agree, she sucked.

Here I presume that you will agree that she sucked, if I ask your opinion at some point in the fture. The "if I ask your opinion" is implicit. You will agree is equivalent in meaning to "it will turn out that you agree".

[Edited:

3.) As many of you will have seen, she sucked yesterday.

Now how should this be parsed? The use of will to indicate future probability is quite unremarkable on its own, as seen in (2.) above.

It is the combination with have seen that makes it complex. At some point in the future, if I ask, it will turn out that you saw that she sucked yesterday. So there is actually no real problem.

4.) As many of you will have seen yesterday, she sucked.

I parse this similarly to (3.), but with yesterday in a different position: at some point in the future, if I ask, it will turn out that you saw yesterday that she sucked.

Here yesterday modifies only (that) you say, not it will turn out; this different scope of yesterday is invisible in will have seen, but it is there. The cause of confusion is that our subconscious might want to apply yesterday to the whole clause, including will, while in fact it applies only to (that) you saw. ]

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...would probably be better? By implication, you think there's something inherently "wrong" with OP's usage. Which I don't accept. –  FumbleFingers Jan 9 '12 at 19:15
    
@FumbleFingers: Upon rereading, I think Psmears and you are right (I have given him my up-vote). I was suffering from semantic satiation after looking at will and yesterday together for too long; it is fine. But I think it may still look slightly confusing or wordy in formal writing. I have edited my answer accordingly: what do you think? –  Cerberus Jan 10 '12 at 2:27
    
I might come down with a bit of semantic satiation myself! I can't see jwpat7's position normally applies - even in a "chatty textbook" where the author starts a chapter with something like "As the alert reader will have recognised, the previous chapter skated over some important issues which we will now address in more detail". But I'm starting to think it is a "chatty, informal" usage, which I hadn't before. Anyway, I reversed my downvote on you, but my upvote stays with Psmears! –  FumbleFingers Jan 10 '12 at 2:49
    
@FumbleFingers: Yeah, I hope Psmears' answer comes out on top. Perhaps I will add a critical comment to the current top answer. I do think it is a bit chatty and presumptious. –  Cerberus Jan 10 '12 at 2:55

As has been noted elsewhere on ELU, English doesn't really have a "future tense". But just because we normally use the modal/auxiliary verb "will" to indicate future, doesn't mean that's all it can do. To claim that OP's example is illogical or ungrammatical is just spurious pedantic rationalisation.

When talking about an imaginary event, or a past event that might not have happened (i.e. - we don't know, or it's conditional), we normally use the form "would have" + past participle.

To indicate that a past event actually happened, we normally use "will have" + past participle...

As you will have noticed, he's got new glasses.

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This use of the future perfect is a standard construction used in English to express an assumption, expectation or presumption.

If someone asks, "Where is Fred?", then I might respond:

He has gone to the bank.

This would indicate that I know for certain where he has gone - perhaps he told me so. However, if he didn't say anything, but I happen to know that he usually goes to the bank on a Thursday, I might instead say:

He will have gone to the bank.

The reason the tense is used in this way (to my mind, at least) is as follows: we are implying that, at the point in the future when we discover for certain where he has gone, we will discover "he has gone to the bank" - and hence the construction is roughly equivalent to [When we find out where he has gone] he will have gone to the bank.

The usage in the question is similar. If the speaker had said

As many of you saw yesterday...

that would imply that he knows that the audience saw [whatever it was] yesterday - again, perhaps he spoke to the people concerned, or was there at the time. Instead, by saying

As many of you will have seen yesterday...

he conveys that he does not know for certain, but confidently assumes this to be the case based on habit, common sense or some such: perhaps he knows that many of the audience were in the right place at the right time to see [whatever this momentous spectacle happened to be].

The British National Corpus reports many examples of such use - searching for "you will have *d", there are plenty of examples of the future perfect being used with this meaning, including You will have noted/noticed (24), you will have gathered/found (16), and plenty more with other verbs; searching with other subjects reveals many more examples, but it gets harder to filter out those that use the future perfect in this way rather than other uses. Even so, searching for "will have *d" and looking through the first page of results reveals that this construction is extremely common, perhaps even the most common use of the future perfect.

(I also tried checking COCA for US usage, to see if this is more common in the UK, but alas I was unable to due to "database errors".)

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"will have *d" sounds perfectly ok, it's the "yesterday" that didn't seem right to me. –  Max Mar 19 '11 at 17:16
    
@Max: I don't just mean "will have *d", I mean cases where the speaker is implying that the action has already happened at the time of speaking. Specifying "yesterday" is just being explicit about when the action happened... –  psmears Mar 19 '11 at 17:32
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This is the right answer. I might add that the future perfect used in this way conveys a pluperfect sense (=completed in the past), coupled with the assumption aspect that you already mention. That is, the speaker is asserting that at the time of speaking, the speaker believes that the action has already been completed in the past, even though it uses a future form. –  tchrist Jan 9 '12 at 19:13
    
I'd almost convinced myself this usage is a touch "informal", but a quick check on Google Books for as will have been noted has disabused me. It's perfectly standard, even in formal contexts. –  FumbleFingers Jan 10 '12 at 3:14

It's not incorrect - in the future (one second from now as I complete my sentence) you will reflect on the past event. Tense wise it's logical, but it's pretty unnecessary. No meaning is lost by saying "As many of you have seen yesterday,..." Even changing it to "As many of you saw yesterday,..." doesn't mean anything different.

If you say that in speech, there's nothing wrong with it - rules of grammar are more important in writing since you have more time to consider what you're going to write and have the opportunity to edit.

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On the one hand, this seems to be accepted usage; I'm sure I've heard it, and it doesn't sound horrible, at least. (Although, as maniacyak points out in his excellent answer, it is probably incorrect grammar.)

On the other hand, simply saying "As many of you saw yesterday" seems so much more obvious. At worst, "As many of you should have seen yesterday" is grammatically correct and expresses the apparently intended meaning adequately.

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